TN legislator gives up attempt to require proof of citizenship with voter registration

from Ballot Access News
Tennessee Legislator Gives Up Attempt to Require Proof of Citizenship to Accompany Voter Registration Forms

February 9th, 2010

Last year, Tennessee Representative Eric Watson (R-Cleveland) introduced HB 270, to require new voters, when they register, to include a copy of a passport, birth certificate, or naturalization certificate, to prove that the new voter is a U.S. Citizens. However, he has abandoned that part of the bill, and will amend it to simply put a severe warning on voter registration forms about the penalties for a non-citizen registering to vote. The bill had a hearing on February 9 and will hear the amended version on February 16.

Arizona has a similar law, but it is under attack in federal courts. The 9th circuit will probably issue an opinion soon. The Arizona case is Gonzalez v State of Arizona, 08-17094.

11 Responses

  1. One of the exclusive rights to citizenship is to vote for their representative leaders. Verifying eligibility should be a requirement as it validates the actual vote, but also shows protection of citizen’s rights.

    • I understand your reasoning. And, on the surface, it seems sound. Though, I am saying we need a different definition than “a person who happens to be born inside the lines the government made up” or “a person with the proper papers.” If someone is Mexican, and they move to our country, live here for 20 years, participate in our economy, and send their children to our schools, maybe they have the right to vote on who is on the school board. There are other countries where voting rights go to people based on residency or property ownership. The way we have is not the only way.

  2. The law is simple. If you are a citizen, you can vote, if you are not, you can’t. In order to be eligible to vote, you should prove your eligibility. Very few other countries DO allow people to vote unless they acquire citizenship, VERY few. If people want the right to vote, they can prove they are citizens, or take the steps to become one.

    • Dear LOUDelf,

      I made a poem, just for you:

      Roses are red,
      Violets are blue,
      The law is simple,
      and so are you!

      There are a lot of laws that I do not like. I try to fix them all the time. Or, at least explain to people why they are unjust.


  3. Name-calling on the second response… wow.

    These laws do not need fixing. Voting is a right. Rights are granted to citizens. Changing this causes uncountable problems. It ain’t broken, so fixing it is really not a good use of time.

    If you are into fixing laws, look into your state’s laws and find ones that conflict, and seek to remove one or the other conflicting one. This will expedite the legal processes. Enforcement of existing laws instead of creating/modifying new ones will save us all a lot of time, and trample on fewer liberties.

    • Lou,

      I will confess, I did indulge in a little bit of name-calling. And, I can only say, that it just seemed like a set up, with saying things were “simple”. Also, when people are expressing intolerance of another group of people, it kicks in my “warrior spirit”. So, apologies if you were offended.

      I do think the laws need fixing. I think that it makes no sense to make artificial boundaries and definitions to prop up an aggressive nation-state that doles out rights to people who agree to belong. I think that there are more rights in living somewhere, in being a part of a community.

      So, we disagree greatly.

      Not sure how far this dialogue can go.


  4. I wasn’t offended, but I’m not sure I was the intolerant one. I’m very tolerant of citizens and their rights to vote. I just don’t like their rights being infringed upon by those who do not have the right to vote.

    There are no artificial boundaries. They are quite real. To the north and south are actual boundaries where laws and rights change. There is a distinct reason why we don’t give others the right to vote here without citizenship: They don’t have the same amount of skin in the game. But fear not. If people want to vote here, there is a clear path to do this: Become a citizen. We do not ask non-citizens to fight our wars, or pay our taxes. Why? We reserve this duty for our own. And for this, they can vote for leadership… especially if we want to vote in those who want to change laws.

    But being an American IS being part of a community. A community of diverse people with different origins who strive for success in their goals in life. We live with freedoms unlike anywhere on earth especially Mexico (your reference, not mine) which come with more challenges as well.

    Don’t try to change the best thing that ever happened to you. We could just as easily be Mexico (again, your reference, not mine).

    • To clarify:

      You are charging me with “intolerance”, because I do not like an opinion that I think harms and dismisses all the rights of tens of thousands of people.

      You do not see that there is “intolerance”, in interpreting the law in such a way that agrees with the white, patriarchal, dominant, corporate culture to keep certain people out…and to assert that that law creates the only worthy reality….and that that law must be guarded, cherished, and used as the defining paradigm.

      When you say, “Don’t try to change the best thing that ever happened to you.”, you are hinting at all the worse aspects of “privilege”.

      That attitude that I am lucky, so I should be quiet, or that I have some little favor or privilege, so things are okay in the world is a classic way to keep the rabble from seeing the bad guys at the top of an unjust system. Feeling lucky to be in “the middle” of an oppressive paradigm, so that I don’t notice the greedy people on top, nor those who are left out of a system or lower than me in the system is classic.

      I will not be so grateful for the crumbs I receive from our elitist, greedy, military-industrial complex, pro-CEO corporate culture, that I will become an actor for the oppressors to harm people who are “lower” than me, or who are “kept out” of the system entirely, by the force of a law, a border, a wall, or government weapons.

  5. There is no color-code to citizenship. Citizenship being the main component of voting eligibility therefor is by definition blind to color. Try not to insert prejudice into somewhere it does not exist. And yes, there is worthiness: Non-citizens are not worthy of voting “privilege”.

    “Don’t try to change the best thing that ever happened to you.” — You miss the whole issue. You see some problems as making the whole system bad. Our system was set up to give freedoms to its citizens (there goes that word again). We allow in more immigrants to our country than any other, and put them on the path to citizenship. Citizenship grants rights, and those rights do not come without great cost. I’m guessing you were born in the US, and therefor never had to EARN citizenship. Because of this, you’ve been able to experience more freedoms than in any other country on earth. Want to change this? Really? Or are you just a person that cannot accept that most great things have imperfection, and therefor their flaws make them completely evil/wrong?

    Breaking down our borders/walls, and removing the force of our laws will take away many of the freedoms you so enjoy, whether liberty or economic. Remember, Utopia does not exist, and cannot because there are humans involved. As is such, we have to settle for an imperfect world, and sometimes imperfect country. Trying to change this will change the ways of lives of hundreds of millions of people who are content, just to fit your world view… and that’s irresponsible as well as horribly self-centered.

    Our country was conceived and grown by people who sought to come here to find opportunity and control their destiny in life. By allowing people who do not want to take the steps legally to earn their rights here, you spit on not only our history, but everyone else who HAS come here lawfully, and patiently done what it took to become a citizen.

    • I hope to address more of these points later. But, I did want to point out that there were not immigration laws that restricted entry or made quotas until around the 1920’s. Before that, you got checked for disease, and if you were healthy, you passed through.

      The way we have is not holy or sacred. We could allow more people to be citizens. Or, we could let people who are not “federal citizens” become voters or citizens of the city or towns they reside in.

      • Remember what happened at the end of the 20’s? The depression. Up until that time, our country had more jobs than people.

        Our country realized that no matter how much economic might it possessed, it could not support the world completely on its back. Today is no different, hence the higher restrictions on citizenship and entry. Allowing more people will only increase our problems in this country, and right now, we just don’t need this. Additionally, adding more conditions and gray areas to existing laws and codes further complicate our huge problems.

        No. Enforce existing laws already on the books. They may not always be perfect in every situation, but they are far superior to the alternatives.

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